How Long Do Steroids Stay in Your System and Show Up on a Drug Test

An impending drug test can be cause for worry and anxiety especially if you do not know what to expect. If you have used steroids in the recent past, it may help you to understand that the amount of time that they stay in your system can vary.

Steroids that have been ingested intravenously are likely to be detectable in the body for 3 to 4 months while orally ingested ones may stay for about 1 to 4 weeks.

Different types of tests also offer various window periods. A saliva test might not detect use after 4 days. Urine drug test may go up to a month, and so can a blood test. On the other hand, body hair can betray you for several months or even a year. The half-lives of different types of steroids can also give you a sneak peek of what to expect.

Having the right information at your fingertips can either help you predict results or prepare you on how to deal with the outcome. Stick around for details on this and more.

Steroid Metabolism and Excretion

When anabolic steroids are ingested, the compounds undergo biotransformation in the stomach. With the help of the liver and the small intestine, they are metabolized and testosterone separated from the various carrier substances.

The testosterone is absorbed into the bloodstream and attaches to specialized protein receptors in cells that help in growing new proteins. Depending on whether the steroids are fast acting or long-acting, they might make noticeable changes in as little as 24 hours or take up to two weeks.

On the other hand, the liver and the kidney work hard to eliminate the steroid metabolites, mostly via urine. Various steroids produce different metabolites and products which are found in urine in a large amount even after stopping the use.

Some products and metabolites produced during metabolism of testosterone include epitestosterone, Dihydrotestosterone and even estrogen which are produced and used as indicators of steroid use in drug tests. Another example is 19-norandrosterone which is a metabolite of Deca-Durabolin (Nandrolone Decanoate). The excretion duration of steroids depends on the factors explained below.

Factors Affecting the Excretion of Steroids

No standard time determines the excretion of steroids from your system. Nevertheless, the following factors might help you to predict the process.

Type of steroid

This has a lot to do with the half-life; the length of time that it takes to get half the amount of a drug from your system. It varies from one steroid to another. The longer it is, the longer the excretion time.

Un-esterified steroids like testosterone suspension are released faster compared to the esterified ones. This means that the urine also goes back to normal much quicker.

Mode of administration

Orally ingested steroids reach the liver and bloodstream faster than the injectables. This hastens the process of metabolism and excretion. The orals have half-lives ranging from 4 to 24 hours while the injectables average between 24 hours to 15 days.

Unique qualities of steroids

Some steroids come with qualities that drag the excretion process. For example, Deca-Durabolin (Nandrolone Decanoate) and Winstrol (Stanozolol) have metabolites that are unique and easy to detect in the urine of their users. These metabolites also tend to stick around a lot longer than most other steroids.

Dose and duration of use

Higher doses and longer duration of use will take more time to metabolize and eliminate. This may also overload and slow the body’s metabolic system causing a drag in the whole system.

Fat solubility

Anabolic steroids are naturally fat soluble. They can be easily absorbed into fat tissues and linger for some time. Still, some others like Deca (Nandrolone) take this a step further. It can hang around for over a year since it is highly fat soluble.


Apart from the different metabolic rates among different individuals, some steroids happen to be metabolism resistant. One such steroid is Trenbolone. It shows up in undeniably large amounts in your urine even in the un-metabolized state. This can happen for up to 5 months.

How are Steroids Detected on Drug Tests

Normal drug tests do not test for anabolic steroids. Steroid detection requires a unique test. It is different in that it requires sophisticated and costly equipment. Apart from this, it tests for all known steroids until what the user is being tested for is arrived at.

The tests seek to detect the metabolites of these substances which are flushed from the body in urine. It is also possible to find large and easily detectable amounts of a steroid released in their original form especially within a short time of use.

When some time has passed between the use of testosterone and testing, it is unlikely to have large amounts in urine. This is where epitestosterone comes in; the testosterone: Epitestosterone ratio is supposed to be 1:1. Extreme deviation from this raises a red flag and can be considered doping. Other anabolic steroids produce unique metabolites that can be easily detectable.

How Long are Steroids Detectable In the Body

Several tests can be used to detect steroid use. The difference lies in their accuracy and the detection time.

Urine Test

It is the most common and reliable test. This is because it offers a longer window compared to the blood and saliva test. A large amount of drug residue, metabolites and by-products are released from the body via urine. It gives a detection period of about a month before you can get a negative result on a drug test.

Saliva Test

The test has a very short window. It is hassle free and fast. The detection time ranges from several hours to at most 4 days.

Hair Test

The test detects both the original compound and the metabolites. It requires at least 1.5 inches of head hair. It can detect use for up to 90 days. Body hair is even better; it can give a window of up to a year. The results are accurate, but they may take a few days in the lab.

Blood test

Steroids are metabolized through the liver and excreted via the kidney. They are released from the blood quite fast and may only provide evidence for about 14 to 28 days after use.

How long do effects of steroids last

Steroid effects are strongest when the cycle of a specific one is on. Once you stop using, the effects start wearing off gradually. Given the fact that steroids cause a lot of physical, emotional and psychological changes, it is only normal that they might take longer to reverse.

The factors that affect how long steroids stay in your system also come into play. Some of the effects may last up to several years. A study published by BBC News claims that the effects of steroids can go up to a decade after use.

What Can Cause False Positive

A false positive doping test can be caused by factors that increase the levels of Nandrolone metabolites in the specimen. These factors may include aromatization of androgen to estrogen, physical activity, trauma and hypoglycemic stress and certain cofactors and herbal products among many.

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